Friday, November 30, 2012

Chris Dowd (ex-Fishbone) Unveils His New Ska Band The UltraInfidels!

Attention all Fishbone fans! Chris Dowd's (Ex-Fishbone) new ska band The UltraInfidels is playing an all ages show in New Jersey tomorrow night along with New York's 2-Tone heroes Bigger Thomas and the Afro punk/funk sounds of Funkface. Word is that Dowd (trombone, keyboards and harmonica) and his band Dana Stevens on tenor sax, Daniel Seef on bass, Erin Davis on guitar and Eric Radloff on drums (pictured below) will play all new material as well as a few Fishbone songs. The band has embarked on a short east coast tour that has visited New York, Philadelphia, Washington, DC and that will wind up in Brooklyn on Monday night.

Dowd who left Fishbone in 1994 and moved to New York where he was living with Jeff Buckley admits that he hasn’t really played much since 1999. According to an interview he did with The Trentonian, Dowd says fans should expect a diverse sound. “In Fishbone we never wanted to be genre driven,” Dowd said. “We hated when people thought we were the square peg and the square hole. I’d say (The Ultra Infidels) we sound like, uh, we’re Prog-Ska (laughing). We are like Yes mixed with The Specials and then throw in a little Metalica.” Below are two of the band's new songs, "Cubicle" and  "The Walking Dead" which offer a sense of the diverse sounds Dowd and his bandmates are exploring.

I plan to videotape much of The Ultrainfidels show in New Jersey and will preview it here in the next few days.

Philippine Ska Festival To Feature Best of Filipino and Korean Ska

The growth and popularity of ska music around the world continues to astound and amaze. It really is a testament to the original Jamaican musicians who gave birth to the sound 50 years ago in small recording studios around Kingston, that ska has grown into a truly global music and phenomenon.

Witness the growth and popularity of ska across Asia culminating in the Philippine Ska Festival, which will be held over two weekends this December in cities across the island nation. Dubbed the “first gathering of Philippine and Korea ska,” the festival will be headlined by Korea's top ska band Kingston Rudieska (who remind me of Japanese ska band Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra). Listen for yourself:

Ska music has always enjoyed a healthy following among Filipinos since Put3Ska broke into the Filipino musical mainstream with their first hit album in 1994. Since the release of their groundbreaking album, three generations of Filipino ska musicians and artists have taken up the torch and there are now a widely diverse group of bands around the country -- some singing in English and others in Tagalog.  The effect is a local, homegrown sound that still has ska rhythms at its core but is still uniquely Filipino.  Check out a video of Put3ska below:

The first event of the festival, called the 3rd Manila Ska Festival, will be held at the Makati Square Arena on December 8th. It will feature Kingston Rudieska along with the best in Filipino ska including Shuffle Union, Coffeebreak Island, Neighbors, Jeepney Joyride, Baguio Ska Paradise, Stolenshots, Steadymovinbeat, Dandimites, Monsoons and Fingertrapp.

The festival then goes to Cebu on December 15th and 16th for the Southside Skarnival,
featuring Kingston Rudieska together with Skalibre 32, Laidback Allstars, Oneman Down, Seaweed Pasta, Sheperd’s Plaid, Blessed The King, Shuffle Union and Coffeebreak Island.

Check out videos for a few of the Filipino bands performing:


Jeepney Joyride

For details and ticket reservations you can visit You can also get in touch with Piliskapinas through Facebook and twitter. Enjoy the festival!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Interview With Travis Nelson On The End Of Hub City Stompers & The Re-Birth Of Inspecter 7

Don't call it a comeback!  The big ska news here on the east coast of the U.S. over the Thanksgiving weekend was that New Jersey-based Hub City Stompers (HCS) have called it quits.  While that news will upset quite a few of the band's die hard fans around the world, the exciting part of the announcement made by HCS lead singer Travis Nelson (Reverend Sinister) was that the death of HCS has given rise to the re-birth of New Jersey ska legends Inspecter 7 (I7)!  That's right, beginning in February 2013, the band from whose ashes HCS was spawned way back in 2002, will be back full time and full force. The other good news -- the majority of the HCS line up and HCS music catalogue will be coming right along to the new I7.

I7 were formed a few years after my band Bigger Thomas staked a flag in the ground for New Jersey-styled ska way back in 1988.  While we looked to 2-Tone for inspiration, I7 took the genre in a whole new direction.  Like us, they embraced the 2-Tone philosophy in look and attitude, but they mixed their ska with a heady dose of punk, hardcore and skinhead sounds and politics.  They quickly developed a rabid following in our shared hometown of New Brunswick, New Jersey and soon through regular touring and explosive live shows became one of the premiere American ska bands of the 1990's.

When Inspecter 7 ended in 2001, Nelson wasn't ready to throw in the towel.  Instead, he took the best of his original band and honed it in his new band Hub City Stompers.  The power and the energy from I7 remained, but now there was humor and witty social commentary that came along with excellent song craft. And so, I fully expect that lessons, song writing experience and showmanship that Nelson and his HCS band mates have gathered along the way the last 10 years will inform the updated I7.  I can't wait to see what they have in store for us in 2013.  Here are a few of my very favorite HCS songs.

 I connected with Nelson right before Thanksgiving to get all the inside information on the decision to end HCS and re-boot I7, who had still played shows sporadically the last few years, but were not a full time band.  Here is what he had to say.

What prompted the decision to reform I7 full time and to bring Hub City Stompers to an end?
It's not so much a reformation of Inspecter 7 as it is a resurgence and a return to full time, regular activity as a band after years of limited, local playing out. After some talks between myself and Giuseppe, Inspecter 7's cessation as a regularly active band, which is essentially what prompted me to form Hub City Stompers, has come to an end.  I7 is back in full force. It's been an amazing 10 year run for HCS, but Giuseppe and I are ready to join forces on an all out basis again and keep Inspecter 7's 20 year history running strong. Things have come full circle.

Who is the new line-up for the reformed I7?
Myself (Rev Sinister) and Giuseppe Mancini on lead vocals, Jenny Whiskey (of HCS and Professor Plum) of tenor sax and backing vocals, Reggae Bob (of HCS and Predator Dub Assassins) on bass, Rob George (of HCS and Bigger Thomas) on guitar, Pip (of The Heavy Beat and HCS) on drums. We're still sorting out the trombone position, though Adam X will still be involved in a limited capacity, and we are still searching for a keyboard player (if anyone's interested?). We're also talking to King Django (Jeff Baker) about possibly being involved in the line up on either of those instruments.

Are there plans to record a new I7 album? I know you debuted a new song "They Say" at your last show.
There's actually been a new Inspecter 7 album in the works for a few years now, entitled "Escapes & Illusions", which should be out by year's end on Little Dickman Records. And yes, "They Say" is one of the tracks from the new album. We'll also be immediately working on writing a new CD as soon as we're up and running again in early 2013.

HCS explored a very diverse palette of music with ska at its core. Do you plan to keep exploring with I7?
Absolutely. We'd already started doing that in Inspecter 7 on "Banished To Bogeyland" I'd say. And the Hub City Stompers songs and music is what I would have been doing with Inspecter 7 anyway had things not come to a halt with i7 back in 2001. So I always have had the view, and still do, that while it's a good thing to have a base in our sound, we shouldn't pigeon hole ourselves to very few specific formulas or influences.

Are there plans for I7 to tour? When will you debut the new I7?
Absolutely. We're all about getting back on the road. No specifics yet as things are still starting to get booked, but we'll be out and about as much as possible. It's still all i7 old, new, or whatever you want to call it. After our benefit show for Predator in Long Branch on 12/15/12, we'll be back with the new line up full time in February 2013. Still ironing out details for the debut show of the "resurgence" but be on the lookout for an early February show somewhere in the NJ/NYC area.

Will I7 play any HCS songs live ?
Yes, absolutely. It's not just the HCS line up that's being incorporated into i7, but a large part of the HCS music catalogue as well. I of course wouldn't just toss 10 years of music in the garbage, and there is a new HCS CD ("Hater's Dozen") coming out on Stubborn Records soon. So while you're rockin' out to the i7 set you never know when a few HCS favorites will be thrown in there. Even a few Steel Toe Solution songs may pop up from time to time as well. You're essentially looking at a 20 year history of music from the i7 family (i7/hcs/sts) spanning 9 albums (come 2013) all under the Inspecter 7 banner. The show is going to be as nuts as ever.

What do you say to HCS fans who may be disappointed about the end of the band?
I'd suggest they look at the new beginning that this end is ushering in. And I'd say that neither the HCS spirit nor the music is truly dying, as so much of HCS is going to be involved in i7 now, and that the HCS spirit was a continuation of the i7 spirit in the first place. Playing, touring, and traveling with HCS over the last decade, people all over would constantly refer to the relation of the the 3 bands, particularly i7 and HCS, whether I myself was conscious of that relation and connection or not. The circle is closing, and everything will now be encompassed in it.

You've been playing music for 20 years now! What keeps you motivated?
The love of the music, first and foremost. That's what's had me join Inspecter 7 and had me form HCS, while both were respectively formed in periods where ska was in the doldrums. It's never been about the popularity of style or genre, but more so for the love of what we create and play, and for those that do appreciate it. What better way to let it all out and express than by the means of the music you love.

For anyone wanting to catch the last few Hub City Stompers shows:
Friday 11/30 @ IOTA in Arlington, VA
Saturday 12/1 @ Popeye's in Peekskill, NY
Sunday 12/16 @ Asbury Lanes in Asbury Park, NJ

To keep up with i7 news, tour schedule, and music, visit the band's Facebook page.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Live Footage Of Special Beat Show In Japan Circa 1992

The Special Beat can be credited with helping to nudge the U.S. into its own full-blown ska delirium in the mid-1990's. Rising from the ashes of The Specials and The Beat, The Special Beat was headed by Beat toaster, Ranking Roger and the core of The Specials including Neville Staple, Lynval Golding, John Bradbury and Horace Panter as well as Finny from The Loafers. The band was built as a touring machine (rather than a band that recorded original material) and the original version of the band toured the U.S. extensively throughout 1990 and 1991 releasing two live albums. Indeed, Special Beat can be credited with helping to nudge the U.S. into its own full-blown 2-Tone delirium in the early 1990's.

While all the 2-Tone bands toured the U.S. during the height of their popularity in the late 70's and early 80's, most had split up or called it quits just as they were beginning to make inroads (read Horace Panter's book "Ska'd For Life" for some great stories of The Special's U.S. tours). But those early tours had an effect and impact by spawning legions of young musicians around the U.S. to start their own bands and scenes. Though it took the U.S. a bit longer to have its own love affair with 2-Tone and ska, by the mid to late 80's, there were ska bands and thriving ska scenes in Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Washington, DC, Chicago and Los Angeles. Ironically, members of Special Beat, who had helped to set the stage for a revival of ska in the U.S., returned as conquering heroes playing sold out shows across the country. For most, the Special Beat tour of 1990-91 was the first time many of them had heard songs by The Beat and The Specials performed live.

Below is a rare video of one of the band's show from Japan circa 1992 which was televised across the country. Its a rare treat to see the band in explosive form as they gallop through a greatest hits set list of The Specials and The Beat best. Enjoy!

1]Concrete Jungle
2]Monkey Man
3]Tears of a Clown
4]Rough Rider
5]Too Much Too Young
6]Get a Job
7]Rat Race
8]Too Nice to Talk To
9]Too Hot
10]Do Nothing
11]Nite Klub
12]Noise in This World
14]Ranking Full Stop
15]Mirror in the Bathroom
16]Enjoy Yourself
18]Save It for Later
19]You're Wondering Now

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Sounds Of Reggae Show Featuring Ali Campbell Comes To Brooklyn

In celebration of Jamaica's 50 years of independence, veteran reggae crooner Beres Hammond, award-winning artist Shaggy, Ali Campbell and his version of UB40 and British reggae star Maxi Priest will all perform together as part of the Sounds of Reggae concert at Brooklyn's Barclays Center on Wednesday, December 12.

As part of the promotional lead up to the show, Hammond is scheduled to make his U.S. late night television debut on NBC’s Late Night with Jimmy Fallon show on Tuesday, December 11th, 2012. The Grammy-nominated reggae icon will be greeted by Jimmy Fallon and sit in with The Roots to perform his hits in and out of commercial breaks. Hammond's appearance at the show is timed to coincide with the release of his brand new album "One Life, One Love" the following day.

The show also gives fans of UB40 living in the New York area a chance to finally hear Ali Campbell and his band perform.  For a sense of what to expect from Campbell and his band, check out a show they performed in Sweden earlier this year that includes their versions of the band's classics (One In Ten, Cherry Oh Baby, Kingston Town), a handful of Campbell's solo songs and a catchy cover version of Prince's "Purple Rain."

Tickets for the Sounds of Reggae show are available by visiting or, or by calling 800-745-3000.

Hurricane Sandy Leaves New Jersey Reggae Artist/Producer Homeless

Hurricane Sandy has impacted many thousands of people across New Jersey and New York. Many lost power for days on end and many others remain without power across the region.   Others, like Tim "P-Dub" Boyce, lead vocalist and band leader of New Jersey reggae band Predator Dub Assassins have had their entire lives turned upside down.

P-Dub lost his entire house and home recording studio in Bradley Beach at the New Jersey shore during the storm on October 30th. His recording studio was flooded by the storm destroying all his equipment and gear and then a tree fell on top of the roof, completely destroying the house. His wife, 14 year old daughter and infant baby (2 weeks old) had to seek refuge with family.

According to a post that he shared on Facebook:
Many folks have been asking how they can help the Dub family in the wake of this epic disaster and I have been too busy to really answer everyone as we are a bit overwhelmed to say the least. We lost everything from both chest high floodwaters running through our house, as well as a giant tree that smashed through our roof. We are homeless and without equipment.
One of the issues we are having to deal with is the remaining stock of PDA CDs. Many of them got wet. We still need top move em out though, and so have created a PayPal link where you can either get 2 CDs for $5 or 4 CDs for $10. (Inserts may be slightly damp, lol, but CDs will play just fine.)
In addition, we have made all albums $5 via CDBaby. These, of course, are dry as a bone. Also, if you just wanna make a contribution of any other amount of even some kind words of encouragement, there is a link for that as well. This is the time when each purchase truly counts. Thanks again everyone and stay positive.
P-Dub, together with his band Predator Dub Assassins, has developed a unique brand of contemporary music fusing Hip Hop and RnB with Pop and Reggae elements. Since 2005, they have released 5 full length albums: “Predator Dub Assassins” (2005), “The Hardest” (2007), “East Coast Dub Cartel Volume One” (2008), ”Fully Qualified” (2009), and P-Dub’s solo debut “Frontline” (2010). The group made an appearance on the hit TV series “American Chopper” in 2009, and supplied music for other popular TV programs on the Food and Fuel TV networks.

As a singer/songwriter and producer, P-Dub has worked with a diverse range of artists including: Akon, Britney Spears, Twista, Trina, Sean Kingston, FloRida, Collie Buddz, Dipset/The Diplomats, Pharoahe Monch, French Montana, Jadakiss, Three 6 Mafia, Paul Wall, Buju Banton, Maxi Priest, Wayne Wonder, Billy Blue (Def Jam), Ace Hood and others.

He has also appeared on some of the same albums as pop luminaries like Lady Gaga, P-Diddy, Trey Songs, Rick Ross, Nicki Minaj, and Lil’ Wayne, seeing a #1 Independent (Billboard), #2 Rap (Billboard), #4 Hip Hop/RnB (Billboard), and two top 10 albums on iTunes (reggae) in the process.

There will be a benefit concert for P-Dub on Saturday, January 5, 2013 at The Court Tavern in New Brunswick, NJ with various supporting acts. If you’d like to help P-Dub in his recovery please buy a CD or consider donating funds via PayPal to

Friday, November 9, 2012

The Talks Collaborate with Neville Staple Of The Specials On New Single "Can Stand The Rain"

While fans of The Specials await news of their future plans, an up and coming ska band that the 2-Tone legends tapped to open for them during their triumphant 30th anniversary tour in 2009 is starting to make waves of their own across the U.K. and Europe.

The Talks began life in the summer of 2006 in Hull, in the Yorkshire region of the UK. Their very first demo received the attention of Hull's very own songmeister Paul Heaton (The Housemartins, The Beautiful South) who placed it in the top 10 list for his radio show at the time. The band very quickly got themselves out on the road, travelling the length and breadth of the UK. Over that time, The Talks have played a whole range of venues and festivals across Europe, including; Leeds/Reading and Glastonbury festivals, tours in Germany, Czech Republic and Slovakia, as well as tours with many established ska bands including Rancid, King Hammond, The Toasters, The Beat and many others. This hard work caught the attention of members of The Specials.

The Talks new single "Can Stand The Rain" featuring Neville Staple, is an infectious piece of old school 60's Jamaican ska infused with a dark dash of 2-Tone political sensibility about the gloomy state of life in the U.K. Neville's guest spot on the song and his friendship with the band goes back to 2009, when The Talks scored the dream gig of supporting The Specials on their much anticipated reunion tour. The single follows the release of the band's LP “Live Now Pay Later” in 2011.

I had a chance to connect with The Talks drummer Titch who shared more about his love of blues and samba, the burgeoning music scene in Hull and what it was like to watch The Specials on their first few reunion shows.

Where did you grow up and what bands or music influenced you the most? What was the first record or single that you ever bought?
I grew up in Hull, East Yorkshire. Specifically on Spring Bank, now the cultural hub of the city! Through my early career I was heavily influenced by blues and samba. My first performances and tours were with blues and samba bands in the early 2000's. The first tape I bought was "Somewhere In Time" by Iron Maiden! That album still does it for me!

When did you decide you wanted to be a drummer?
My earliest memory (early 90's) of playing was after seeing a South American quartet busking in Hull city centre.  I convinced my parents to buy their cassette. Later that day at home, I arranged a selection of pots and pans across the kitchen floor, stuck the cassette on and bashed away like Tito Puente! From then on, I always had a place in my heart for drums. It wasn't until 2005 that I realised I could make this my every day job/career and haven't looked back since!

What is the Hull music scene like?
Hull has always had a thriving music scene! With the likes of Mick Ronson, Roland Gift of Fine Young Cannibals, The Housemartins and the Beautiful South hailing from Hull, to more current bands such as Counting Coins, The Paddingtons, Last Winter Dance Party and Hekima and the Bongo Flava, there is some ripping talent in the city, backed by some great venues such as The Sesh, The Adelphi, and Pave. Doing great things for the city!

Were you a fan of ska an reggae before you joined The Talks?
Like a lot of my friends, when i was in my teens I had the obligatory 3rd wave ska/punk cover phase, and later on from that, the token 'Best of Bob Marley' album phase. Playing with The Talks has opened my ears a lot to ska and reggae, showing me the delights of trad ska and dark evil heavy dub!

For those who may not be familiar with the band can you tell us a bit about how the band was formed and who the members are?
The band was formed back in 2005-6 when Patrick Pretorius (vox/gtr/sax) and Jody 'Kep' Moore (vox/gtr/keys/synth) got together and wrote/recorded the earliest Talks tunes. They then enlisted me and bassist Iain 'easy E' Allen to take the sound to the masses and start touring!

How would you describe the sound of the band live?
Stomping, pulsing, bouncing, bass heavy, sweaty ska from where I'm sat!

Can you share any stories about any live shows that are particularly memorable?
For me, opening up for The Specials on the first few dates of their reunion tour will always stick with me! Witnessing the suspense as they waited to start their set on the first night was immense!

Tell me about recording "Can Stand The Rain' with Neville from The Specials.
When Pat and Jody went to Coventry to record Neville's parts, they were joined by Neville's family for a barbecue (15-20 people).  Lots of eating and drinking went on, with spurts of recording in-between.

Any plans to tour the U.S.?
We're always looking for new adventures, so no doubt we'll be over that pond pretty soon!

"Can Stand the Rain" featuring Neville Staple will be released on the November 26, 2012 as a digital download on the band's own All Our Own Records. It will be followed by an EP due for release in January 2013. You can catch up with The Talks on Facebook, Twitter or at their official website.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Next Electric Avenue Ska/Reggae Night This Saturday 11/10 with The Pandemics and Los Skarroneros!

The next Electric Avenue show coming up this Saturday, November 10, 2012 at Characters NYC in the heart of New York City is "A Night of Ska Punk" featuring two purveyors of the genre from Brooklyn -- The Pandemics (led by Bigger Thomas trombonist Chris Malone) and Los Skarroneros -- for the incredibly low price of $6.00!

The ska punk genre remains unique in its ability to fuse with a variety of other sounds while maintaining some semblance of ska roots at its base. The Pandemics hew to the type of ska punk perfected by their biggest influences -- The Mighty Mighty Bosstones and Less Than Jake -- featuring  lots and lots of horns and crunching guitars that is balanced by their love of ska and reggae. Los Skarroneros (who take their name from the Spanish word carroñero (a scavenging bird), but also the colloquial Spanish word ñero, which means a person from a poor working class neighborhood) play a rough and ready mix of ska and punk music which reflects their shared Mexican heritage and their working class/immigrant view of the world.

This show is also an opportunity to bring together the diverse Anglo and Latino ska scenes in New York City -- something which would have seemed to be a no brainer, but which in fact has happened less than you would think. It has occurred to me that the dawning of anti-immigrant political reality during the election on the right can be a clarion call for the beginnings of a new American-styled 2-Tone, (or 3-Tone - black, white and brown!) musical and political response, that is bi-lingual, but built on bringing together the rich musical variety of ska in all its forms. One of the amazing qualities of ska is its mutability. It has easily incorporated a variety of musical styles over time. As someone once said to me, "Ska is ska. It really doesn't matter what language the singer is singing". How true.

Electric Avenue is brought to you by my fellow New York City-based ska blogger Duff Guide To Ska (Steve Shafer) and I to support the ska and reggae scene and most importantly, bring ska and reggae music back to Manhattan, where it was born with The Toasters, Beat Brigade and N.Y. Citizens in the early 80's. Electric Avenue is a non-profit venture--all of the cover charge at the door will be split equally between the bands. We don't plan to take a cut, nor does the venue, so you can be assured that if you come out to see a show, the money you pay will directly support the band's playing that night.

Hope to see you at the show!

Friday, November 2, 2012

The Toasters To The Rescue! New York's First Ska Band Play Brooklyn Tonight

Greetings to all MOTB readers from New York City! I am alive and well post Hurricane Sandy. Luckily I live in a neighborhood in Manhattan that did not flood or lose power. For that I am very grateful. Sadly, many of my family, friends and fellow New Yorkers are not so lucky. Many are still without power. Others have suffered significant damage to their homes. Our iconic subway system is still getting back on line after flood surges inundated key tunnels linking Manhattan and Brooklyn. On top of that, there are now gasoline shortages everywhere making it even more difficult to get around. While pockets of New York may seem normal, we are far from back to normal. That will take some time.

As a long time denizen of New York I know the city will bounce back. It has a spirit and energy that are hard to keep down for very long. As such, its only appropriate that The Toasters -- who were born in New York City thirty years ago and who helped found the American ska scene -- are playing tonight in Brooklyn at the Knitting Factory. Its almost poetic that the band that keeps the ska flame burning wherever it travels around the world is here in New York after a terrible natural disaster. Nothing keeps The Toasters down and nothing will keep New York City down either.  Joining the band tonight are New York ska/reggae band The Rudie Crew and Phildadelphia's The Snails.  My fellow ska blogger Steve Shafer (Duff Guide To Ska) and I are DJing the show together.

If you are able to travel to the Knitting Factory in Brooklyn tonight I urge you to come out and celebrate with the New York ska community to toast our collective good fortune and good luck with a night of soul stirring and inspiring ska brought to you by Rob "Bucket" Hingley. If you can't make it, then know we are with you in spirit and crank the band's anthem "East Side Beat," a musical paean to the lower east side of Manhattan (which has suffered mightily from the storm) and sing along at the top of your lungs.  God bless The Toasters and God bless New York City!